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Oil was little changed heading for its first weekly gain in three as concern that tension between Iran and the West will intensify threatened shipments from OPEC’s second-biggest crude producer.
Futures rose as much as 1.4 percent, taking their gain this week to 4.9 percent, after the U.S. Senate passed a bill aimed at Iran’s central bank yesterday and the European Union tightened sanctions. U.S. unemployment unexpectedly dropped in November to a two-year low, while employers added fewer workers than projected and earnings eased.
The Senate bill would give the president the power starting July 1 to bar foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank from having correspondent bank accounts in the U.S. If enacted, it could be much harder for foreign companies to pay for oil imports from Iran. The Obama administration opposes the legislation.
Iran pumped 3.56 million barrels of oil a day last month, a Bloomberg News survey showed. Saudi Arabia is the top producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Crude oil for January delivery climbed as much as $1.36 to $101.56 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent oil for January settlement rose 6 cents to $109.05 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.
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